Book series running from 1983 to 2003, created by Francine Pascal. Spawned a TV series made by Saban Entertainment, several Spin-Off book series, a board game and other merchandise. Almost 200 books were published in the main series alone; over 600 were published including the spinoff series. Stories were handed off to ghost writers and generally hit bookstores once a month.The series centers on Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, identical twins living in Sweet Valley, California. Elizabeth is serious, studious and levelheaded. Jessica is flirtatious and free-spirited; often her zany schemes drive the plot.Until book #95, plots alternated between two types. In some, the main plot focused on the twins. In others, the focus was on another student at Sweet Valley High School, with a subplot devoted to the twins. In some of the latter type, Elizabeth Wakefield helped the focus character with some personal problem. Social issues such as racism, anorexia, and drug abuse were addressed in this manner.Beginning with book #95, the series' format shifted. Books were grouped into miniseries, usually of three books, based on a theme. The first such series, which spanned seven books, was about a sociopath named Margo, who happened to look just like the twins, traveling to Sweet Valley intent on assuming Elizabeth's identity. (This Evil Twin later turned out to have an Evil Twin of her own.) With the shift in format, the storylines became increasingly fantastic, some dealing with such topics as werewolves and vampires.In addition to the standard, numbered books, special editions included:
Super Editions. The twins go on vacation and/or celebrate holidays. Later in the series, the Super Editions focused on supporting characters.
Super Thrillers. The twins become entangled in mysteries.
Super Star Stories. These focus on supporting characters.
Magna Editions. Large-scale stories. Included the Sagas, which revealed the twins' family history, and the Secret Diaries, which were basically clip shows.
A Night To Remember: Special super-sized novel, the only one of the rare few specials which is canon in the main series. Taking place inbetween #94 and #95 of the main series, it tells the story of the "Jungle Prom", a dance that destroys the status quo of the main books and sets up the "Evil Twin" arc.
Sweet Valley High: the flagship. The twins are 16-year-old juniors at Sweet Valley High. Jessica is a cheerleader and Elizabeth writes for the school paper. (181 books)
Sweet Valley Twins: the first Spin-Off. The twins are 12-year-old sixth-graders at Sweet Valley Middle School (and in case you were working on the math, no, it's not right; they should have been 11 years old.) Jessica is in a clique called the Unicorns, who got their own Spin-Off. (144 books)
Sweet Valley University: the twins go off to college. Jessica quickly loses her virginity and briefly gets married. Elizabeth attracts a cyber-stalker. (81 books)
Sweet Valley Kids: the twins are 7 year-old second-graders. Sometimes they solve mysteries. (88 books)
Unicorn Club: Spin-Off of Sweet Valley Twins.(25 books)
Sweet Valley Junior High: the twins are now eighth-graders at a new school following rezoning. (30 books)
Sweet Valley Senior Year: the twins are now 17-year-old seniors. After a devastating earthquake hits Sweet Valley (on the twins' birthday, no less,) many students from flattened El Carro High transfer to Sweet Valley High. With this entry, the series reverted to less fantastic storylines, and the characters were more culturally diverse. (48 books)
Elizabeth: Elizabeth travels to England, works as a maid, and loses her virginity. (6 books)
Sweet Valley Confidential: this is a stand alone novel which was released in March 2011 and chronicles the lives of the twins and their friends at age 27.
The Sweet Life: a six-part ebook series that began in July 2012, which is a Spin-Off of sorts. It picks up three years after Sweet Valley Confidential and the twins and their friends are 30. Jessica's marriage to Todd has crumbled, Bruce and Elizabeth are living together and he's accused of sexually assaulting an intern, Lila's on a reality show, and Steven and Aaron are clashing over parenting styles.
This series provides examples of:
Absurdly Youthful Mother: Alice Wakefield, who, we're told, looks at least a decade younger than her actual age and is often mistaken for the twins' sister.
Adults Are Useless - This applies to Ned and Alice, as well as many of the parents in the series (to the point of neglect or even abuse in some cases). The twins' parents can't even tell when complete strangers are impersonating their daughters. Todd notices a difference in the fake Elizabeth before her own parents!
All this was going on during Liz's trial for manslaughter. Mrs. Wakefield had a nervous breakdown and morphed into this obsessive-compulsive June Cleaver-type mom who only cared about a clean house and homemade dinners. Mr. Wakefield was defending Liz, and Jessica was mad at everybody, so it was the perfect time for Margo to slip in and fool the family. They got fooled again by both Margo and Nora in the sequel, when they have no excuse.
They were also quick to make excuses for Elizabeth's misdeeds while reading Jessica the riot act for hers—in one especially bad example, they blame Jessica for something they KNOW Elizabeth did (though Jessica usually manages to weasel her way out of punishment), not to mention completely oblivious and insensitive to Jessica's genuine insecurity about Elizabeth's "perfection"—it took Jessica running away—twice for it to dawn on them how troubled she was.
In the original series, it seems that Mr. Collins (the English teacher) is the only helpful adult as most of the kids at SVH talk to him about their problems.
The inevitable outcome of this can clearly be seen in Sweet Valley Confidential where we see how screwed up everyone has now become! Good job, Ned and Alice!
Although Jessica and Elizabeth are adults in The Sweet Life, their lives are falling apart. Where are Ned and Alice? On a cruise. They don't bother to come home when Steven and Aaron's baby is kidnapped!
Aesop Amnesia: Jessica would frequently try to pull off a zany scheme. More often than not, it would blow up in her face, yet it wouldn't be long before she was trying to pull off another stunt. Sadly, some of these stunts were genuine efforts at improving herself or trying something new—cooking class, music lessons—so it seems rather unfair that this should go as badly as her usual conniving.
In the Sweet Valley High super-special Winter Carnival, Elizabeth gets fed up with Jessica's selfishness and flat-out tells her, "I wish I'd never HAD a sister!" (Ironically, this is after misinterpreting Jessica's genuine attempts to fix the mess that has resulted from her self-centered behavior). She then promptly has a lengthy dream sequence in which Jessica dies. Naturally this leads to a reconciliation.
The Sweet Valley Kids book A Curse On Elizabeth features a museum trip gone bad, involving the twins being chased by an Egyptian mummy. It is revealed to be All Just a Dream, but ends with an Or Was It a Dream? twist when Elizabeth realizes that she's lost her jacket, which she took off to save them from escaped cobras in the dream.
The Sweet Valley Kids mystery The Case of the Alien Princess features the twins and a group of their friends being taken aboard a spaceship.
The Sweet Valley Twins book The Class Trip involves Elizabeth going on a boat ride with Tom Sawyer, only discovering at the end that it was a dream induced by a head injury.
Alpha Bitch: Lila Fowler and Amy. Later, Enid/Alex Rollins (SVU), Janet Howell (Twins) and Kimberly (Unicorn Club). Jessica has her moments too, the best example being Wrong Kind of Girl.
Angsty Surviving Twin: Jessamyn from the Saga The Wakefields of Sweet Valley. Amanda and Sarah (also from the Sagas) may qualify as well.
Lisa/Helen from The Roommate in SVU.
Annoying Younger Sibling: Despite being only 4 minutes younger, Jessica was frequently this to Elizabeth, and they often both were to big brother Steven (who could be pretty annoying himself).
Attempted Rape: Numerous examples, including Dear Sister (#7) and Don't Go Home With John (#90)
Black Best Friend: Maria Slater to Elizabeth in Senior Year and Nina Harper to Elizabeth again in SVU. Danny to Tom Watts in SVU.
Brilliant but Lazy: Possibly Jessica. Although her primary concerns are boys, clothes, and parties, it is stated in one of the early books that she gets good grades in most of her classes. Later books indicate that she's a poor student, but one who could do better if she applied herself (which in fact does happen several times throughout the series). In particular, one book has her getting an excellent score on the SATs and considerably outscoring Elizabeth, despite barely studying, and everyone assuming that she must have cheated somehow, as this is inconsistent with her typical academic performance.
Later, Jessica and Elizabeth had to retake the test (due to the aforementioned cheating accusations). This time it was Jessica who studied like crazy and Elizabeth who relaxed and didn't care. The result? Poor Jessica gets horrible scores and Elizabeth gets great scores, lending even more credence to the (untrue) cheating accusations.
Broken Aesop: Repeatedly. Elizabeth would go on and on ad nauseam about how people deserved to be forgiven for their mistakes and given a second chance. Apparently, this only applied to her friends, as she never once showed the same compassion to Jessica's clique. Additionally, Jessica was constantly criticized for her bad behavior (promiscuity, snobbery, unfaithfulness, etc) whereas similar behavior from Elizabeth was glossed over.
A perfect example is book 10: Wrong Kind of Girl: Annie Whitman is called "Easy Annie" because she goes out with a different boy every night and dresses provocatively. Jessica, who does the EXACT same thing, condemns Annie for it and goes as far to keep her off the cheerleading squad, while on the other hand Elizabeth insists that Annie shouldn't be judged for her behavior—even though she constantly chastises Jessica for the same thing.
In "Runaway", Jessica finally gets fed up with their parents' favoring of Elizabeth and leaves home. When she's brought back, there's much tearful reconciling. By the next book, it's like nothing has changed—three guesses who gets blamed when a wild party wrecks the Wakefield house, even though BOTH girls decided to have it.
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Elizabeth drives while drunk once, crashes her car and gets arrested. For worse, Jessica's then-boyfriend was with her and died; that's punishment for Jessica, who had pranked Elizabeth by spiking her drink.
Regina Morrow isn't much better. The first and only time she tries cocaine, she dies.
Cupid Hates Odd Couples: The twins are constantly stealing each other's boyfriends and fighting about it, only to realize that sisterhood was more important. It happened repeatedly with Todd, as well as several less important boyfriends, but the worst example stemmed from Jessica's jealousy over Elizabeth and Sam dancing at the Jungle Prom, which only happened due to Jessica spiking Elizabeth's drink.
Dead Person Impersonation: Gia Allen in the Sweet Valley University series, who assumed the identity of a popular sorority girl at her old university in order to continue stalking a guy who had taken out a restraining order against her.
Margo's character arc was based around her desire to kill Elizabeth and assume Elizabeth's identity forever. When she discovers that she has a twin sister of her own, they agree to kill both twins and "replace" them (although now Margo wants to be Jessica.)
Downer Ending: A Night To Remember (the prequel to the Evil Twin Novel): the big prom that Elizabeth, to the point of going all Captain Ahabian, planned goes horribly horribly wrong when a rival school crashes the prom and a full-scale riot breaks out with Todd leading the charge. Furthermore, the violence of the riot causes Lila (mentally unstable from being nearly raped) has a nervous breakdown and attacks a guidance counselor, who she thinks is trying to rape her and basically has to be placed in a mental institution that very night. And Elizabeth, after Jessica had spiked her drink, drives home with Jessica's boyfriend (the only one who was actually good to her) and kills him dead.
The Sweet Life Elizabeth successfully clears Bruce's name after he is framed for sexually assaulting a woman, only for him to dump Elizabeth (who risked everything to clear his name, to the point of becoming estranged from everyone around her) for Annie Whitman, his LAWYER! At the freaking press conference being held in his honor after Elizabeth cleared his name! Also, Jessica and Todd reaffirm their relationship (much to the horror of those who were hoping they would break up) and Lila, who has been faking a pregnancy to keep her husband from leaving her, is exposed BUT is forgiven, as it turns out that the sex Lila had with her husband right before she started the pregnancy scam, DID lead to her becoming pregnant. So she escapes punishment by way of her husband forgiving the big lie after it came true, by pure luck!
The Original Series: An earthquake hits Sweet Valley on the twins' 17th birthday. It destroys most of the town and the following characters die: Olivia Davidson, Ronnie Edwards, and Roger Patman. Devon abandons Elizabeth, Todd wants nothing to do with Elizabeth and leaves Sweet Valley for a while, Jessica tries (and fails) to save a little girl and falls into a deep depression.
Drugs Are Bad: When Bruce breaks Regina's heart, she befriends a guy who takes her to a drug party. She dies as a direct result.
In Sweet Valley University, Isabella's cigarette is spiked with drugs at a party, causing her to jump off a balcony in her drugged state and be left with serious injuries and Identity Amnesia.
Everyone Loves Blondes: Beautiful with sun-streaked blonde silky hair, blue-green eyes and a tiny dimple in the left cheek, Jessica and Elizabeth are easily two of the most beautiful and popular girls in the school.
Jessica herself may qualify in the early books when her schemes were less zany and more downright nasty.
Face-Heel Turn: Amy Sutton between Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High, Lila Fowler in Sweet Valley High Senior Year, Enid Rollins in Sweet Valley Senior Year and Sweet Valley University, Winston Egbert in Sweet Valley Confidential.
Fake Triplet Gambit: In one of the Twins books, Elizabeth and Jessica invent a third sister, Jennifer, and take turns pretending to be her. In SVH #45, Family Secrets, the twins do this with their visiting cousin Kelly and confuse everyone at school.
Fallen Princess: When Jessica goes from being popular girl to outcast in Sweet Valley Junior High, Sweet Valley High Senior Year and Sweet Valley University.
Generation Xerox: A spin-off focused on the twins' great-aunts Elisabeth and Jessamin, identical twins who have the same personalities, romantic woes, etc. as Elizabeth and Jessica. Other books reference the likeness too.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In The Wakefields Of Sweet Valley novel, two character embrace passionately. One asks, "Should we stop?", The other says, "No". The scene cuts there, but several months later, when the female half of the couple discovers that she's pregnant, it's pretty obvious what happened. There are also a handful of other scenes that allude to the possibility of sexual activity.
Girl Posse: Jessica and friends, especially with the Unicorns.
High School Dance: most plots in SVH revolve around or climax with this. Eight of the first 10 books alone has a dance as part of the story.
Identical Grandson / Generation Xerox: Almost every book in the series mentions that the twins' mother was frequently mistaken for their older sister, and that their brother Steven was a carbon copy of their father. Taken to extremes in the Saga books, in which almost every generation of the twins' maternal and paternal lines tend to be nearly-exact copies, particularly the two other sets of blonde Polar Opposite Twin girls on their mother's side of the family tree.
Surfer Bill Chase fell in love with Elizabeth because she resembled (in looks and personality) his late girlfriend.
Elizabeth became infatuated with a guy who looks like Todd until she discovers he's a jerk.
The twins' brother Steve repeatedly dumped girlfriend Cara to pursue girls who resembled his dead girlfriend Tricia. Adding insult to injury, he refused to see any of the girls as their own person and instead tried to mold them to his memories of Tricia, including the way they wore their hair ("Don't put your hair up, Tricia always wore it down."), the things they did ("Let's go to the aquarium! Tricia loved the aquarium!"), things they were interested in ("You like science? Just like Tricia! She wanted to be a doctor!"), and even the food they ate ("Vanilla? But Tricia always had chocolate ice cream!"), making them feel bad when they wouldn't comply, all the while insisting "She's just like Tricia!" Only when one of the girls finally blasts him for this and declares that she deserves better than being used as a substitute does he realize how unhealthy his behavior is.
One of the books in the Twins series had Mary, a classmate of the girls', constantly coming over to spend time with them. It soon became obvious that her motive was to spend time with the girls' mother. Even Elizabeth eventually got irritated with this, until it was finally revealed that Alice Wakefield bore a strong resemblance to Mary's mother, whom she hadn't seen since she was a little girl. (in an especially dark plotline for this genre, it was revealed that Mary had been abducted by a friend of her mother's, then eventually abandoned and shipped from one foster home to another)
It's a Wonderful Plot: One of the Twins special editions did this with Elizabeth in the George Bailey role.
Karma Houdini: Jessica Wakefield. She spikes Elizabeth's punch at the prom and lets her drive off with Sam. Sam was killed as a result of the crash and Elizabeth was arrested and put on trial for manslaughter. During this whole ordeal, Jessica does not speak up and completely abandons her twin. In fact, she even blamed Elizabeth for killing Sam, and to get revenge, she hooks up with Todd. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has to deal with the guilt of "killing" Sam, being an outcast at school and possibly being sent to prison.
In book 100, The Evil Twin, Elizabeth realizes that Jessica spiked the punch. She never really confronts her about it, but after Margo "dies" she forgives Jessica.
The Movie: currently in the works and is rumored to be a musical.
Non Indicative Title: The Wakefields of Sweet Valley is about a family of women not named Wakefield who for the most part don't live in Sweet Valley.
No Periods, Period: Averted. In the "Twins" series, a secondary character gets hers and is dismayed as she thinks this means having to give up playing baseball as well as hanging out with boys. In a later book, Elizabeth starts hers and Jessica is upset as she hasn't (though she does by the book's conclusion). In another book, Jessica refuses to give evidence in court about a store hold-up because she was embarrassed about buying pads at the time.
Pass Fail: One book was about Rosa Jameson's efforts to pretend to be white. She eventually learns to be proud of her Mexican heritage.
Runaway Bride: In the first "Saga" book, Alice (the twins' mother) ditches her fiance Hank Patman (who would later become Bruce's father) at the altar, partly because she's suddenly realized he isn't the man for her, but mostly because she's fallen in Love at First Sight with Ned Wakefield—and as you recall from the book, their ancestors have missed numerous chances to get together in the past.
Spoiler Title: One book has Elizabeth rejecting a would-be boyfriend who gets his revenge by going around telling Elizabeth's friends about all the embarrassing things Elizabeth "told" him about them. Jessica is sure Elizabeth wouldn't have told these secrets, but how could he have known them otherwise? It might have been quite the mystery, had the book not been titled The Stolen Diary.
There's also the book where Lila is trying to get her divorced parents back together. Title: The Wedding.
Stalker with a Crush: Both twins have at least one during the series. Elizabeth gets abducted by hers; Jessica's pursues her relentlessly and finally kidnaps Elizabeth by mistake.
Suddenly Sexuality: Steven comes out as gay in Sweet Valley Confidential, despite having supposedly been heterosexual for the whole of the original series, being married to Cara at the start of the book, getting engaged to Billie in Sweet Valley University, and having a nervous breakdown over the death of another girlfriend (Tricia Martin - see Identical Stranger above). His eventual boyfriend husband in The Sweet Life is Aaron Dallas, another case of Suddenly Sexuality.
Textual Celebrity Resemblance: In the original versions, Mr. Collins is described as looking like Robert Redford. In the new, updated editions he's just described as looking like "a movie star".
There Are No Therapists: You would think that everything the twins have gone though (trials for manslaughter, abductions, attempts on their lives, being stalked by identical impersonators) would qualify them for months and months of therapy. Nope, doesn't happen.
This is played with in Lila's case. Following her near date rape, she goes to therapy at Project Youth (at first just going to get her dad to stop worrying about her), but becomes attached to the therapist there and accuses him of assaulting her when the fight breaks out at the Jungle Prom.
Played straight in The Sweet Life as Jessica and Todd (and Lila and Ken) are having marital problems but they don't see a therapist.
Token Minority: In the orginal series, it's Patty Gilbert, Maria Slater, and Annie Whitman's stepsister Cheryl (all African-Americans), Jade Wu (Asian-Anerican), and Rosa Jameson (Latina-American). In Senior Year, it's Maria Slater (African-American), Tia Ramirez (Latina-American), and her friend Andy Marsh (gay). In SVU, it's Nina Harper, her boyfriend Bryan Nelson, and Tom Watt's best friend Danny (all African-American). When the twins are sophomores at SVU, their gay friend Neil lives with them.
Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Sam, Jessica's boyfriend who dies in a drunk driving accident. Unlike a lot of men Jessica dates, Sam is pretty much a nice guy who brings out the best in Jessica and makes her want to be a better person. So naturally he ends up dead. This also applies to:
Sweet Valley High: Tricia Martin (Steven's girlfriend), Regina Morrow, Christian Gorman (another one of Jessica's boyfriends who died as a result of a school war), Roger Barrett Patman, and Olivia Davidson (the latter two died in the earthquake when the original series ended and Senior Year began). Roger Barrett Patman's death is later retconned in Sweet Valley Confidential.
Sweet Valley University: Gin-Yun Suh (Todd's girlfriend) tells him on her deathbed to get back together with Elizabeth.
"You can be a Sweet Valley girl. Living in a Sweet Valley world. Our school! is so! cool! Sweet Valley High!"
The Un Favourite: Several books in the series deal with Jessica's feelings of insecurity about Elizabeth's perfection—#21, Runaway and #83, Kidnapped By The Cult—as well as several in the "Twins" series.
Viewers Are Goldfish: A rare literary example. Try to find a volume in the main series that doesn't mention the Wakefields' Spanish-style kitchen, the twins' Spider Fiat (Jeep Wrangler in later books), or the identical gold lavalieres they received from their parents on their 16th birthday. These facts will be burned into your mind forever.
Or that the Wakefields live in a split-level, ranch-style home on Calico Drive.
Not to mention that they're both 5'6, with perfect size 6 figures, matching dimples, sparkling blue-green eyes, golden tans and sun-kissed blonde hair...
Also, Elizabeth has a small birthmark on her shoulder, Jessica doesn't, it's how their cheating boyfriends can tell them apart (or realise they've been duped into snogging the wrong girl...again)
Or that Jessica NEVER wears a watch.
Or that Jessica's room is completely brown and dubbed "The Hershey Bar" (in later books, it's completely purple) and is always a complete mess.
Visit by Divorced Dad: reversed as Lila's mom is the divorced parent who visits her following Lila's near date rape experience.
What Happened to the Mouse?: in SVU, Steven had a live-in girlfriend named Billie. They were engaged and expecting a child she had a miscarriage. Then she just disappeared with no explanation. Even Jessica's ex-husband Mike got Put on a Bus and in a later book, The Bus Came Back! Same with Nina Harper. She lived with the twins and two male friends, but got fed up Sam's messiness and moved out with no further mention. Although she was Elizabeth's best friend, there was no explanation given for her disappearance.
Would Hurt a Child: Margo murders both her foster sister and a child in her care as a nanny.
Yet Another Christmas Carol: Done with Jessica in a Sweet Valley Twins Special Edition. She's not shunning Christmas like most "Scrooge" characters, but instead, is only thinking of her own pleasure. Sure enough, she's visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past (showing how she used to love sharing her gifts with her sister), Present (Jessica is now selfish and refusing to share), and Future (Jessica is loathed by everyone, even those she was once friends with, because of her horrible treatment of people).
The TV series provides examples of:
'80s Hair: A rather interesting example in that the show's male characters have this, but its female characters look appropriately 90's.
The Other Darrin: Happens to characters Todd Wilkins and Lila Fowler. Original actors Ryan James Bittle and Bridget Flanery (seasons 1-2) were replaced by Jeremy Garrett and Shirlee Elliot (seasons 3-4).
There Are No Adults: Notably applies to the twins' parents, who are rarely, if ever, seen or referred to throughout the series.